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Douglas slams Common Core, AzMERIT test in first State of Education

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PHOENIX – After running a campaign largely based on eliminating the Common Core State Standards for Education in Arizona, newly elected Superintendent of Public Instruction Diane Douglas criticized the standards in her State of Education address Wednesday.

“Our Arizona state standards were discarded and replaced with the unproven Common Core standards,” Douglas said before the House Education Committee.

She referred to Common Core as, “a de facto mandate, only to be renamed Arizona’s College and Career Ready Standards,” “the latest fad, top-down approach or cure-all sold as the solution for student achievement” and something adopted “without public communication, input or support.”

Douglas, a Republican, also shared her disappointment with the new AzMERIT test, which state education officials adopted in November to replace the AIMS test as a measure of academic achievement.

“The name is the only thing Arizonan about the test,” she said.

Noting that the test was created and implemented in 21 weeks, Douglas called on the Legislature and governor to, “Stop the madness and put our children first.”

“The current state of education in Arizona is poor,” Douglas said, outlining a recent “Quality Counts” study conducted by Education Week in which Arizona received a D+ rating and was ranked 47th in the nation.

“This is hardly news to Arizona’s parents or its education and business communities,” she said.

Douglas said she intends to take an honest and realistic path to address the state’s education challenges.

“Today, we start on a collaborative path so others will look to Arizona as an example of education excellence,” she said.

Janice Palmer, director of governmental relations and public affairs for the Arizona School Boards Association, said afterward her group has had productive conversations with Douglas and that she hopes the dialogue will continue.

“I think her remarks were very interesting and I thought she hit some of the biggest points,” Palmer said. “It was really great to hear that our schools need investment.”

Rep. Lisa Otondo, D-Yuma, House Education Committee’s ranking minority member, took issue with Douglas’ criticisms of the Common Core.

“Remember these are standards. This is not curriculum,” she said. “Curriculum is decided locally.”